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Paul December
10-04-2011, 06:49 PM
I recently met up with a friend that waited 9 months and payed well over $1k for a custom built uke and...
...well, it sounds terrible... very dead.
OK, I know he can change strings to help liven it up, but I've played cheap crappy ukes that sounded better before string tweaking.
This is probably what keeps me from getting a custom built for myself - you won't know what it actually sounds like until it is done.
Are bum customs just the gamble you take? Beyond slight tweaking, will builders take back a custom if you are unhappy with it?

rasputinsghost
10-04-2011, 06:51 PM
Gordon and Char of Mya-Moe and Chuck Moore have return policies as far as I know.

Paul December
10-04-2011, 07:00 PM
Gordon and Char of Mya-Moe and Chuck Moore have return policies as far as I know.

I wonder what you need to do to qualify...
...and if they have "restocking" fees.

southcoastukes
10-04-2011, 07:30 PM
I recently met up with a friend that waited 9 months and payed well over $1k for a custom built uke and...
...well, it sounds terrible... very dead...This is probably what keeps me from getting a custom built for myself - you won't know what it actually sounds like until it is done.
Are bum customs just the gamble you take? Beyond slight tweaking, will builders take back a custom if you are unhappy with it?

Boy, this is a complicated subject. We have finally stopped doing customs (whew!!!), and I'm sure a lot of other builders would like to get away from it too.

Sometimes the problem may be a bad build, other times it is a result of what the customer has asked for. A really good builder should just outright refuse some requests - then try to guide you to something that works better. Doing this is a talent in and of itself (one that I don't possess).

That said, if you have ordered something fairly ordinary (Koa, Mahogany, etc.) without any outlandish or personal decoration, then I think a builder would want to take that instrument back rather than have a dissatisfied client.

bbycrts
10-04-2011, 08:19 PM
Brad Donaldson wouldn't take any money from me until I had the uke in my hands and was happy with it. If I had been unhappy with it he would either have fixed it, built a new one, or called off the whole deal.

Needless to say...I was ecstatic from the moment I first touched it!

Allen
10-04-2011, 09:25 PM
I can only speak for a few luthiers that are good mates of mine and myself. Though I suspect most well respected luthiers would be of the same view. We would all take back an instrument that a client had commissioned and paid for before having the chance at playing. It's the nature of relationship you set up with a client. There has to be trust in each other that you will do the right thing.

Much different when they come in an play all your instruments and pick the one they want, then come back in a month saying they changed their mind and want a refund.

mendel
10-05-2011, 01:19 AM
Same experience with Bradford. The Uke he built for me sounds better and better every single day. Prices were more than fair, and his skill and ability as a luthier is second to none. He is incredibly knowledgeable and he takes great pride in his work.


Brad Donaldson wouldn't take any money from me until I had the uke in my hands and was happy with it. If I had been unhappy with it he would either have fixed it, built a new one, or called off the whole deal.

Needless to say...I was ecstatic from the moment I first touched it!

joeybug
10-05-2011, 01:28 AM
I've not got my custom yet, however, I have heard of other people having problems with the final result, generally speaking most builders will do the right thing, so long as, as others have mentioned, it wasn't something the customer wanted that caused the problem, or that they hadn't played it before buying. Though there are some who just won't take it back no matter how badly made it sounds. The guy I'm getting my custom from won't take more than a deposit from me before he starts building (and I trusted him enough to take it all, but he won't) and I'm sure that unless it was something I wanted done that made it sound awful, he'd try to make it right rather than have a dissatisfied customer, that does your business no good!

France
10-05-2011, 01:35 AM
I had a custom built by Mike Pereira and he said if I tried and didn't like it for whatever reason he would take it back (minus shipping) within a week or something. Fair enough I reckon. Needless to say I love it and will never part with it. But yeah that is a bummer to get a dud. What was/were the wood combo's?

ukeeku
10-05-2011, 01:48 AM
Tell them to send it back. I just got a custom Boat Paddle, love it to death. Jerry said that I am covered for life and that if I ever have an issue to talk to him first. I have seen him saw the back off a $2000 uke becasue the customer thought it sounded dead. Fixed it and got it back to them at no charge. The uke was 2 years old at that point. so....
Moral of the story is...The maker should stand behind their product, don't hesitate to let them know there is an issue

Nixon
10-05-2011, 02:33 AM
This is one of the reasons I started self building, can build exactly what I like. Saying that, the custom I did get a luthier to make is easily my favourite uke.



I've not got my custom yet, however, I have heard of other people having problems with the final result, generally speaking most builders will do the right thing, so long as, as others have mentioned, it wasn't something the customer wanted that caused the problem, or that they hadn't played it before buying. Though there are some who just won't take it back no matter how badly made it sounds. The guy I'm getting my custom from won't take more than a deposit from me before he starts building (and I trusted him enough to take it all, but he won't) and I'm sure that unless it was something I wanted done that made it sound awful, he'd try to make it right rather than have a dissatisfied customer, that does your business no good!
You still buying yours from Darryl Cursley? If so there's nout to worry about, his ukes are great. Nearly bought one of his early ones this summer.

joeybug
10-05-2011, 02:42 AM
This is one of the reasons I started self building, can build exactly what I like. Saying that, the custom I did get a luthier to make is easily my favourite uke.

You still buying yours from Darryl Cursley? If so there's nout to worry about, his ukes are great. Nearly bought one of his early ones this summer.

Yup, still getting a Cursley!

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-05-2011, 07:18 AM
Before entering into a relationship with a builder it's a good idea to do as much research as you can on him/her. If little is to be found on the internet ask the builder if he could put you in contact with past customers and ask them of their experiences. If the builder is a good one with reputable experience, he is not going to let a "dud" pass through his hands even if he occasionally builds one. A builders reputation rests on every single instrument he builds. Do your homework first.
These days when so much commerce takes place on the Internet I believe every custom luthier should (must) offer a reasonable return policy at no cost to the customer.

hoosierhiver
10-05-2011, 07:40 AM
I agree with Chuck, check out the luthier's reputation before committing to anything. Just because someone calls themself a luthier that doesn't mean they have any outstanding skills or knowledge.
I remember a retired carpenter and built very beautiful ukes that sometimes had bad neck angles and sometimes sounded like crud. He simply wasn't a musician and essentally was just a carpenter, not a luthier.

Stevelele
10-05-2011, 07:48 AM
Totally agree that checking on a luthier's reputation is very important. If the luthier is available to answer questions or has done interviews, also try to get a sense of whether he or she takes pride in his/her own work. To me, buying a custom is like buying a work of art. You want to know a little about the artist, what the artist likes to do, whether the artist is truly passionate about the work he/she produces. Most of the luthiers I've talked to and worked with are almost obsessively caring about the instruments they create. They have a personal relationship with their work, and frankly, I think that's what can make a custom so great. Of the customs that I own, I always think about the uke in relationship to the person who created it

pulelehua
10-05-2011, 08:20 AM
I think one of the problems is "opening up". If you get a ukulele which sounds a bit dull, you can go through the grace period waiting for that special dazzle. My custom plays beautifully, and it has a nice sound, but it doesn't have an ear-popping wow sort of sound. When I first got it, it sounded a bit dull, but I figured it would open up. It has opened up a fair bit, but not nearly so much as it would have had a I got a softwood top (as Mike had suggested). I don't feel at all cheated, but I was hoping it would be my last ukulele, and it won't be. Which is a bit awkward, as I won't be able to afford another nice ukulele for a few years, given current finances.

I think a problem with the gamble aspect is that some of us live in areas where it's hard to play a variety of nice ukuleles, and have to depend a bit too much on YouTube on other internet services.

I should add that Mike is a wonderful luthier to work with, and his reputation is really stellar. My ukulele plays like a dream. I just wish I had got a different top, which he himself recommended.

Living and learning.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-05-2011, 09:09 AM
This is why you've got to let your builder drive the bus sometimes. Don't ignore his recommendations. He has his preferences for a reason. What you want in an instrument may not lie in his area of expertise.
My own forte is with koa; I feel I know the wood as well or better than most do. I can pretty much guarantee you an excellent instrument built of it. But when asked to build an ukulele from a wood in which I don't have much experience, or am uncomfortable with for one reason or another, I will usually refer the customer to another builder. A good builder will know his limits and will be honest with you. He wants you to be happy! Listen to him.

SailingUke
10-05-2011, 09:23 AM
Brad Donaldson wouldn't take any money from me until I had the uke in my hands and was happy with it. If I had been unhappy with it he would either have fixed it, built a new one, or called off the whole deal.

Needless to say...I was ecstatic from the moment I first touched it!

Mike DaSilva sent me my uke to try before I paid him.

GX9901
10-05-2011, 12:00 PM
I recently met up with a friend that waited 9 months and payed well over $1k for a custom built uke and...
...well, it sounds terrible... very dead.
OK, I know he can change strings to help liven it up, but I've played cheap crappy ukes that sounded better before string tweaking.
This is probably what keeps me from getting a custom built for myself - you won't know what it actually sounds like until it is done.
Are bum customs just the gamble you take? Beyond slight tweaking, will builders take back a custom if you are unhappy with it?

All of the customs I've ordered have met my expectations. It's true that I don't know what it would actually sound like until after it was completed, but based on my extensive research on each of the builders, I was confident that each of the custom ukuleles would sound good.

Did your friend order from a luthier with sterling reputation? Or was it built by a relatively unknown builder? I guess just because a uke is custom built doesn't guarantee it to be stellar sounding.